The Rev. Wilfred LaCroix, S.J., Remembered for Humor and Intellect

Friday, January 6, 2017
Fr. Wilfred LaCroix, S.J.

The Rockhurst University community is mourning the death of the Rev. Wilfred LaCroix, S.J., a longtime University professor of philosophy, on Dec. 22, 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri.

At the time of his death, Fr. LaCroix was 83 years old. He had been a Jesuit for 57 years and a priest for 47.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Fr. LaCroix graduated from St. Agnes High School in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1951 and attended Rockhurst University (then College) for a year before completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in radio journalism and English at Marquette University in 1955.

After spending four years stationed in the seas around Japan and the Philippines following the Korean War with the U.S. Navy, Fr. LaCroix entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri, in 1959. He earned master’s degrees in philosophy and dogmatic and systematic theology as well as a licentiate in sacred theology from Saint Louis University. In May 1969, Fr. LaCroix was ordained a Jesuit priest at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, Missouri, and pronounced his final vows in 1979 at Rockhurst University.

He joined the University’s philosophy faculty in 1971. Known for his sense of humor as well as the care with which he approached student learning, Fr. LaCroix was a well-regarded and ever-present figure on campus. He spent almost 40 years in the philosophy department, serving as its chair for more than 20 years. In 1998, he was named Teacher of the Year by the University and received the Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2002. In addition to his work in the classroom, Fr. LaCroix published several books and a number of articles within the field of ethics. His work grappled frequently with questions about war and peace and of political and social justice. Fr. LaCroix was known to say that his work in philosophy was an extension of his work on justice. Outside of his academic work, Fr. LaCroix frequently led faculty and staff in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

The University will celebrate Fr. LaCroix with a memorial Mass concelebrated by University President the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., and other members of the University Jesuit community scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2, in Mabee Chapel.